I was younger when the landers first arrived. They ate the earth and drank the rivers dry.
I did not see them when they touched the ground. But I heard them when they tore through the sky.
My father stood in the field where one did land. He told us stories about that lander late in the night:
“It had a tail of fire as it fell to the earth. It planted itself in the soil and unfolded, with its reflective petals chasing the sun.”
My father watched the lander as it opened its eyes, spun its neck and fed from the ground.
So he fetched water for the traveler with a pouch my mother had made.
Many times I heard him say,
“Even a traveling river we offer it water to drink.”
He placed the pouch at the foot of the lander but its stance did not change.
So he poured the water into its mouth until the lander shivered and its skin began to stain.
“Rust coloured its mouth and began to spread across its body and limbs. It then became stiff and hulked over before my eyes. I saw it turn to iron dust.”
My father would proclaim.
The rust continued to spread. It spread to the trees and across the field. It consumed our home and the homes on the lands that neighboured our own.
Even my father, once tall like steel, was consumed with grief until he was rust.
Today I return to a land i do not know. Its soil is red with the rust of the machines that have continued to come, and the rust that has spilled from our veins.
I stood where my father once did, with a pouch of water in my fist.
I watched the skies and waited for the machines to descend, ready to welcome the thirsty landers again.
A sequence of landers marking the colonisation of Mars vs. the techno-colonisation of peoples and nations.
In this collection of works, the artist embarks on a personal journey to re-explore the Arab state of Mars and its rust-stained soil. The artist seeks out this new territory emboldened by a spirit of adventure and exploitation. After all, techno-colonialism has found numerous firm footings here in the past. As have various central systems of power succeeded in dominating this land and its natural components.
To reach the surface of this Arab world, the artist who is not able to forge a craft of technological worth; instead, assembles a series of story landers to take him through a timeline of political events.
Oxidised brass sheets, metallic components and robotic motors.
Mission: Mars 2, The Soviet Union.
Event; The Construction of the Aswan High Damn in Egypt.
Mission: Mars 3, The Soviet Union
Event: The 1973 ‘October war’
Mission: Viking 1 & Viking 2, The United States
Event: The Syrian occupation of Lebanon
Mission: Beagle 2, The United Kingdom
Event: 2003 invasion of Iraq
Mission: Curiosity (Mars Scince Laboratory), The United States
Event: Second Egyptian “Arab spring” protests
AL-MARS, 2019 was part of the group exhibition Alobour curated by Dr Effat Fadag.
Robotic programming by Prof. Manfred Hild and Simon Untergasser of the Neurorobotics Research Laboratory, Berlin